Favourite Word

“I did no such thing.”

“Ebony.”

“I never even read the message.”

“Ebony.”

“How would I even–”

“Ebony!”

Ebony whirled around. “What?”

Ivory would have glared at her, but Ivory never glared at anyone. He gave her a grieved but patient look and vacated his window seat to join her where she paced before the fireplace.

“Ebony, you don’t have to explain yourself to me.” he reminded her gently.

Ebony made a frustrated snorting noise in the back of her throat. “I know. I don’t know why I keep doing that.” she said, despite knowing exactly why she kept doing that, having figured it out months ago.

“But no-one else will believe I’m innocent, will they?” she sighed.

“I’m sorry, Ebony.”

Ivory leaned against the mantlepiece. His unearthly azure eyes absorbed the dancing intensity of the fire as he stared into it. “Ebony.” he began.

“Twenty-two.” said Ebony promptly.

“What?” said Ivory, baffled.

Ebony grinned. “You’ve said my name twenty-two times during this conversation, Ivy darling.”

“Well, you’ve been quite distracted during this conversation.” Ivory explained.

“I know. I’m sorry.”

Ivory met her eyes. Then he averted them and blurted, “Also, your name is my favourite word.”

Ebony blinked at him.

Ivory’s cheeks, though usually graced with an angelic pink tint, where positively cerise. He cleared his throat delicately. “Anyway, even if no-one believes you’re innocent, they can’t do more than spite you until they have solid proof against you.”

Ebony thoughtfully chewed on her lip, only half paying attention to what he was saying. “Good.”

Ivory pushed away from the mantlepiece and gave her a look of hesitation.

Ebony raised her eyebrows. “Spit it out, darling.”

Ivory raked his fingers through his strawberry blonde hair, scattering tiny flowers everywhere. “Still, someone might make an attempt on your life.”

Ebony chuckled. “Ivory, I can more than handle a few angry peasants with pitchforks. I’ll be fine.”

“And I’ll be fretting over your safety all hours of the day and night.” Ivory retorted.

Ebony paused once more, regarding her tall blonde compatriot curiously. He was courteous and considerate with all of his associates, possessing a gallantry and kindness Ebony would never have, but this was different from his usual generosity.

He was being… Protective, Ebony realized.

Ivory wanting to protect her and not the other way around was a foreign setup to Ebony, but a surprisingly touching one.

“So what? You’ll assign bodyguards to my protection? Have my lodgings in town guarded? That would hardly help.” she scoffed, but without any real rebuff in her tone, her dark eyes full of silent, tell-tale laughter.

“What if I invited you to lodge here, in my household? You are among my oldest and dearest friends after all.” Ivory offered hopefully.

“I would be unable to refuse that invitation.”

“Really?” Ivory said with sparkling eyes.

Ebony took two steps forward and kissed his cheek. “Really.”

Written 8th March 2020

© Helen C. Viorel

Artwork by cocoparisienne

https://pixabay.com/users/cocoparisienne-127419/

Willingly Into Your Trainwreck

Willingly Into Your Trainwreck

“My ribs hurt.” Moonflower noted.

Wolf stared at her through unreadable eyes. “That’s because you’ve been sobbing hysterically for two hours straight.”

Memories of her recent grief hit Moonflower like a wave of nausea. Discomforting, bathed in odd blue light. She shuddered.

“I remember.” though she didn’t want to. Absently, she reached for Wolf’s hand. “I failed. I failed them all.”

Strong hands, roughened with work yet gentle with tenderness, grasped hers. Wolf pulled her to face him.

His blue eyes, like flaming ice, compelled her attention, keeping it on him as he spoke.

“You failed, yes. But you did everything you could. You exerted your full strength to help them, but it wasn’t enough. There was no dishonour in this failure, Moonflower.” Wolf ended on her name, softening the word like an endearment.

Moonflower’s eyes filled with tears. “This wasn’t about honour. This is something I should have seen, prevented! How can they call me their leader if I’ve just proven I cannot handle my responsibilities?”

Wolf’s intense gaze finally broke. His eyes fell to their entwined hands. “They cannot.” he said simply. Moonflower’s shuddering gasp prompted him to continue, to talk so that she wouldn’t have to in her current state of pain. “You’ve been demoted. Lizette will lead in your place from now on.”

Moonflower’s shoulders slumped. “At least there’s that.” she said with a broken smile on her face. “At least they’re in good hands. Lizette is a more powerful woman than I.”

Wolf’s hands tightened around hers. “I’m afraid I must disagree with you on that last statement. Lizette has not your sensitivity, nor your intuition. She is an excellent leader yes, but you are unparalleled in your own way.”

Moonflower laughed mirthlessly. “Careful there. You sound like you’re worshipping me.”

“I am.” Wolf suddenly cupped her chin and lifted her gaze to his. “I do.”

Moonflower closed her eyes as fresh tears began to spill down her face. She leaned her forehead against Wolf’s, drawing strength from him. “I’m sorry.” she told him.

“Hey, now.” with gentle-rough fingers, Wolf wiped away her tears. He then planted an impossibly soft kiss on her cheek. “Why are you sorry?”

“I’m sorry you have to put up with this.” eyes still closed, she gestured to herself. Tired, tearful and discouraged by failure. Wolf still failed to look beyond how unchangeably beautiful she was. “You’ve said yourself that you wouldn’t be here if not for me. So, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for dragging you into my trainwreck.”

“Moonflower. You most assuredly did not drag me anywhere.” Wolf kissed her other cheek just as tenderly as the first. “I walked into your trainwreck of my own free will. And I’m staying with you. Until you directly order me to leave you, I will be here.” this time, his kiss landed on her lips. Brief, gentle, chaste, as if afraid of inhibiting her tear-choked breathing, he pulled away quickly to meet her wide eyes. “I’ll be right here, Moonflower.”

Written August 17th 2020 by Helen C. Viorel

Artwork by cocoparisienne

https://pixabay.com/users/cocoparisienne-127419/

Be My Heart ~ A Poem

I will follow you wherever you go

Along your movements I find my life’s flow

And if you tell me not to follow

I simply won’t listen, as you well know

I think you’ve stolen something from me

Or maybe I gave it to you unwittingly

I know not what I’ve lost, but I can see

That by your side is where I’m to be

My life’s cadence dances off you

Like light that’s infused with a fiery hue

And when a sense of loss hits me out of the blue

The source of my strength comes gushing from you

The sound of your heart, the rush of your blood

Your life means more to me than my own ever could

And if what I have lost comes back in a flood

And you asked me to give it to you, I know that I would

My heart is what was lost to me

But I don’t want it back, you see

Because you’ve become the source of me

Will you be my heart for eternity?

By Helen C. Viorel, May 23rd, 2020

Artwork by cocoparisienne

https://pixabay.com/users/cocoparisienne-127419/?tab=popular&pagi=3

Steel, Thorns, Blood and Vanilla

Author’s Note: Yay, no more writer’s block! This is complete fluff, but you should read it because you love me. ~ H

Steel, Thorns, Blood and Vanilla

Ivory forced himself to take a deep breath. The stress was beginning to make him mildly sick, and he couldn’t have that.

“You ready, Your Grace?” asked his loyal advisor from the doorway behind him. “They will receive you in five minutes sharp.”

Ivory exhaled. “Thank you, Fairen.”

Fairen nodded once, then slipped discreetly away.

Ivory was left alone with only his reflection in the large mirror opposite him for company. His immaculate silver ceremonial armour glinted in the light of the crystal chandelier, and his strawberry blond hair was flawlessly gathered in a sleek ponytail.

He looked like the perfect Duke.

He felt like the perfect nervous wreck.

Then, the second door in the room, the one next to the mirror, abruptly swung open, making Ivory jump a foot in the air in his jittery state.

In strode Ebony, her cascading mane of black hair in wild disarray as if she’d been outside in a windstorm, her dark armour scratched, dented and slightly bloodstained, her void-like eyes glittering and alert. She shut the door behind her and marched purposefully up to Ivory.

“You look like you want to cry. What are they doing to you?” she demanded without preamble.

Ivory winced and tried to rearrange his features into a more dukely, stoic expression. “Nothing, Ebony. The council merely wishes to speak with me.” he answered.

Ebony raised an imperious eyebrow. “Are you alright?”

That question. That stupid, simple, sensible and utterly inconvenient question. Why, why, why must people always ask it?

Ivory laced his hands together and tried to take another deep breath. “Yes. No. Ebony, tell me what to do!” he wailed.

Ebony seized his hands and rather roughly pried his fingers apart so that she could entwine her gloved hands with his.

Ivory met her gaze, his breath hitching slightly, as it always did when he looked at her directly. Her eyes were so utterly dark. He wondered if her heart was the same colour.

“Ivory. You’ll be absolutely fine. You’re their Duke, damn it! Besides, I’m here now. I came because I thought you might need me for moral support. I provide excellent moral support, do I not?”

Ivory’s lips compressed in a vain attempt to forestall a smile. “You have no morals. You’re a genocidal maniac.” he reminded her.

Ebony’s lips spread into a pleased grin. “And you’re a genocidal maniac’s favourite husband. If they upset you, I’ll slit all of their throats and watch while they choke to death on their own blood.” she promised.

Ivory shuddered, but found himself laughing.

“Really. You’ll be alright.” Ebony soothed, her maniacal grin softening into a more human smile.

Ivory pulled her into a hug.

Ebony stiffened in surprise at first, inhaling sharply.

Ivory took a lungful of his wife’s comforting scent. She smelled like steel, thorns and blood. How that managed to be comforting, he did not know, but perhaps it was the secret warmth beneath her cold-blooded disguise that allowed him to look beyond her aura of pain and combat.

Ebony would always be a warrior; it was unlikely that she would ever stop locking herself into her protective armour and impossible that the blood on her hands would ever wash away. But she was also his protector. She guarded him from harm with a soldier’s skill that was utterly detached in its execution, yet born entirely of her own desire to keep him safe.

And therein lay the distinction between Ebony and the rest of her sancoeur kin: Ebony’s desire. Her will. Her selfless vow to keep him from harm, no matter what it cost her.

Ivory held her tighter as she nestled into the hug, her armoured form feeling so much smaller and warmer in his arms as she let her guard down.

Steel, thorns and blood.

Ivory buried his face in her hair. And smiled.

Steel, thorns, blood and a delicious hint of vanilla in her hair.

~

Written by Helen C. Viorel

Artwork by Yomare

https://pixabay.com/users/yomare-539547/

Dark Angel ~ A Poem

Author’s Note: Happy St Valentine’s Day! This is a really bad poem I wrote just now. ~ H

Dark Angel ~ A Poem

Where I will wander through the night

Through thorns that pierce my soul

When once the world seemed black and white

It’s heartless grey and bitter cold

Pieces of me still linger here

Stray shards of my heart there

Crushed and cracked and strewn by fear

In battles that just weren’t fair

I wish my memories would fail

And scatter like shards of my heart

For in my mind such phantoms wail

I wish the regrets would just depart

But then along my path of pain

Wrapped in darkness too

I saw a light that didn’t wane

Thank God that light was you

You wrapped me in your angel wings

Which I saw were black as night

Your heart was full of tender things

And you captivate my sight

Life had given you your share

The pain in you was surely there

But in your violet eyes so bright

I found the will to brave the night.

~ by Helen Cryestira Viorel, 14th of February, 2020

Artwork by Darksouls1

Armour of Glass ~ A Poem

Back straight, chin up

Smile bright and never cry

Heart closed, shields up

Stay safe and never try

Wear your armour of glass

And hope the storm will just pass

Because behind the glass I can cry

Exchange your wings

For marionette strings

Because it’s just too much effort to fly

Stolen wings leave scars

Glass armour breaks in shards

But in the end why do I even try?

By Helen Cryestira Viorel, November 11th, 2019

Artwork by Greyerbaby

In The Absence of Nightmares

In The Absence of Nightmares

It was the loud pop of burning wood that brought him to.

He started slightly, his eyes flying open to fall upon the comforting blaze in the fireplace. He relaxed.

He began to stretch, but froze when he registered a weight upon him that was not his own.

He looked down.

Curled up into his side, one arm draped across his chest, lay the love of his life, fast asleep.

Her long, curly hair was down, hiding the upper half of her face. Her lips were parted slightly, and her chest rose and fell with even breaths.

He softened at the sight, adjusting his position to ensure she was more comfortable.

He smiled, noting that while she had let her beautiful hair down, she still wore her corseted sapphire silk dress from the ball. Her feet were tucked up into her voluminous skirt.

His smile saddened when he remembered just how long it had been since she’d last slept like this. Her nightmares had taken months to recede.

And even if the nightmares were to one day disappear entirely, the physical evidence of those nightmares would remain.

He involuntarily glanced down again, his gaze skimming the uncharacteristically modest neckline of her dress. A slight puckering of the soft, plump skin there was the only indication of the hideous brand burnt over her heart.

The dagger-shaped brand that matched the one on his own chest.

His breath caught, and he forced the invading memories from his mind. He reached for his sleeping lover. His anchor in a world tainted by nightmares. Out of long-established habit, his hand came to rest on her waist.

She shifted in her sleep. Her hand came to rest over his heart. Over his brand. Her fingers curled loosely into her palm.

He smiled, wrapping her delicate fist in his larger one.

His thigh, trapped underneath her, had long since lost feeling, and he winced slightly, gently adjusting himself once more.

His lover was a comparatively light weight, but she was still an unconscious grown woman.

He didn’t mind though.

He rested his chin atop her curly head and closed his eyes. The gentle, rhythmic sound of her breathing was the only noise in the room besides the subdued crackle of the fire.

So he held her, resting gratefully by her side in the absence of their nightmares.

He wouldn’t wake her for the world.

By Helen Cryestira Viorel, October 10th, 2019

Artwork by Pexels

The Ghost Who Walks In Candlelight ~ A Poem

Author’s Note: Happy Halloween to all the lovely mortals, immortals and undead! ~ H

The Ghost Who Walks In Candlelight ~ A Poem

Upon mountains carved by dragon’s flight

Shrouded in late October’s night

Within a castle torn by nature’s bite

Walks a lady-ghost all clad in white

She walks as a wandering angel might

In ever-burning candlelight

No deadly creature of the night

Her undead heart quite free of blight

Upon every Halloween night

The ghost who walks in candlelight

Fills her castle’s halls with light

The light of ghostly candles bright

To mortals watching in the night

A ghostly figure slim and slight

Flits here and there like a spectral sprite

Filling her home with candlelight

Although her dress is always white

Her hair seems made of candlelight

Her golden locks seem to ignite

Whenever she walks in candlelight

An owl glides softly through the night

Swooping down to here alight

On the walls of a castle so very bright

Where a lady walks in candlelight

And moths enamoured by the light

Fly forth in flocks of silk-winged flight

To roam the castle to the delight

Of the ghost who walks in candlelight

And before November dawn’s first light

The lady-ghost clad all in white

Will fill her last October’s night

With a thousand candles’ radiant light.

By Helen Cryestira Viorel, October 31, 2019

Artwork by DarkWorkX

Song In My Head ~ A Poem

There was always that one song

Stuck in my head

That one song combating

My whirlpool of dread

If I had just this one song

Stuck in my head

I could withstand anything

That anyone said

But God forbid

That my dear song should fade

Because when it did

Each word was a blade

Driving like poison

Straight through my heart

And I’d just cry and wait

For the song to restart

And everything’s better

With a song in my head

Because then I could dance

Even if I bled

Bled out my heart

With music in my soul

Because the song in my head

Somehow kept me whole

Dancing alone

To the song in my head

And I can’t really hear

What’s now being said

Dancing and singing

To the song in my head

The music’s my life

When the whole world seems dead

Singing aloud now

The song in my head

It’s always the same song

That’s stuck in my head

It’s the same song you sang me

All those years ago

And you asked me to dance

And I couldn’t say no

After all when I listen

To the song in my head

I’m dancing with you

And you’re no longer dead.

– by Helen Cryestira Viorel, 8th October, 2019

Artwork by fernando zhiminaicela

The Forgotten Library

This is highly inadvisable, thought the royal espionage student sprinting soundlessly down the hall.

The adrenaline of the moment, however, brooked no hesitation, and quelled any consideration for later regret.

“Rosa!”

Rosa didn’t slow at the panicked call of her colleague, or even turn around. He knew what he was getting into when he followed her.

“Rosa! They’ll see you!” Allan hissed again, trotting on tiptoe in an attempt to keep up with her and simultaneously avoid making any sound as he moved. A single footstep would echo with amplified resonance in these vast, empty halls.

Rosa, being barefoot, ran on ahead, unhindered by the heavy boots Allan wore. She’d left hers in her quarters for this exact reason. She glanced over her shoulder at the poor boy with an innocent smile.

Allan shook his head vehemently at her, his blonde curls bouncing.

Rosa ignored his attempt to dissuade her. She stopped running abruptly, her hand resting on one of the massive marble pillars that rose at regular intervals on either hand along the length of the enormous hall. The polished, grey-veined white marble was cool and smooth under her palm. She bit her lip to allay her triumphant grin, rapidly counting the pillars starting from the one she was touching and ending with the ones flanking the archway leading deeper into the castle.

Allan caught up with her then, his cheeks flushed from running and frustration. “Rosa!” he exclaimed for the third time.

Rosa gave him a significant look.

Allan sighed. “Please let me convince you to abandon this ridiculous endeavour?”

Rosa tapped her chin in mock reconsideration. Her dark red eyes sparkled at him. “No.” she said promptly.

Allan ran a hand through his golden mane and muttered, “I thought as much.”

Rosa returned her attention to the pillar, by now certain that it was the fourteenth one from the outer entrance to the hall, and the sixteenth from the inner archway. She dropped to kneel at the pillar’s base.

Allan watched her, half irritated, half curious. “What are you doing now?” he asked.

The base of the pillar was a sturdy block of carved marble, sinking like an anchor into the hall’s floor, which was made of a darker grey marble. While the towering pillar was thick enough to fit a large man inside it, the edges of the squared base were wide enough to sit on. Rosa ran her fingertips along the block, searching for something out of the ordinary and neglecting to answer Allan’s query.

Allan, attuned to her narrow focus and short attention span, knelt beside her and observed.

Rosa found something quite quickly. On the side of the block, something was carved, scarring the marble’s perfection. She swung herself around to crouch before the side of the block, examining what her fingers had found.

Etched deeply into the marble were words. The language they were in caused Rosa to blink, momentarily thrown.

Allan leaned in beside her, frowning at the words. “What in the world is that?” he said.

Rosa looked at him with raised eyebrows. “Allan, we are royal spies in training. You should at least recognize the base language.” she said.

Allan traced the bewildering carvings with his fingertips, as if touching the words could somehow divulge their meaning. “I should, but I don’t.” he admitted.

Rosa smirked, feeling superior. “It’s elven. Very, very old elven.”

“Can you decipher it?” asked Allan.

“The words, yes. But the overall meaning? It’s like a riddle. I just can’t make it out.” Rosa said, her shoulders drooping in disappointment.

Allan gave her a sympathetic pat on the back, but allowed himself to feel quietly relieved.

Rosa’s disappointment shifted to frustration. She’d only be stationed here for another week, and she would never again get a chance to confirm her theory. She’d have to go over her books again, maybe she’d missed something.

“Rosa, we should go now.” Allan urged, his skittishness returning. He grasped her arm, insistent.

Rosa slapped her hand against the etchings one last time in sheer annoyance, using the force to push herself back onto her heels.

Under her push, the marble sank into itself, like a button.

Allan’s hand tightened on her arm.

Rosa stared.

With an alarmingly loud grating of stone on stone, the pillar’s side slid open, revealing it to be hollow. A narrow chute led down out of sight.

Rosa’s grin returned twofold, a manic fire igniting in her maroon eyes.

Noticing it, Allan tensed, laying both hands on his impetuous colleague’s arm. “Rosa, don’t you dare–”

Rosa slapped away his restraining hold and leapt down the chute.

Allan cursed, but followed without a second thought.

Darkness pressed in on Rosa, as well as the tight sides of the chute. She tucked her elbows and braced herself, excitement kindling.

Her bare feet hit something completely unexpected. Carpet?

Before her eyes could shift to allow her to see in the utter lack of light, a soundless rush overhead informed her that her colleague had followed her.

Rosa moved quickly out of the way, letting Allan drop safely at her side.

He instinctively reached for her in the total darkness. Finding her arm, he composed himself and shook out his glorious blonde curls.

At the action, a soft golden glow emanated from his hair, allowing him to see his surroundings.

Rosa, not needing the light of her colleague’s multipurpose mane, cast her now scarlet eyes to the floor, which was covered by a thick emerald carpet, then to the room in front of her.

She squealed.

Vast pillars, not unlike the marble ones from the hall they’d just left, rose up and out of sight into the shadowed ceiling. Except these pillars were square and stout, and made not of white marble, but of blonde wood. And each and every pillar was filled with books.

They were bookshelves! Countless, towering, narrow bookshelves, as far as the eye could see. The underground room was huge.

Rosa whirled to face Allan, her eyes, though bathed in alarming red light, were triumphant, awed and delighted. “I found it!” she proclaimed, beaming at him.

Allan smiled back, defenseless against her contagious delight. “You found it.” he agreed.

Rosa squealed again, darting amongst the woodland of tall bookcases. She wove through them in a dizzying dance, her hands brushing the spines of books that hadn’t been read in possibly centuries. She wasn’t sure where to start.

Allan took a more leisurely pace towards the nearest shelf, and selected a tome at random. Reading by the light of his luminous hair, he flipped through the undecayed pages, marvelling.

“Preservation spells. Definitely elven.” he observed aloud.

Rosa stopped her weaving dance to look at him questioningly.

“Elves, being the oldest immortal race next to the vampires, have long used preservation spells on their libraries and strongholds to protect their invaluable caches of knowledge.” Allen recited from memory in response to Rosa’s look.

Rosa nodded slowly, reaching for the shelf in front of her. “Makes sense.” she said.

She opened the black-covered book titled, in elven, The Dragon Alliance. It sounded like a storybook, but upon further inspection it was revealed to be records of the first alliance between the South Cyruthan elves and the Dragons of Fadis. Excited, she sank to the floor, dropping the book open in her lap.

Allan shut his own book with a snap. He took one look at his colleague sitting cross-legged on the carpeted floor with a thick tome in her lap, as if she intended to read the entire thing in one sitting, and laughed.

Rosa tore her glowing red eyes away from the book, distracted by his uncharacteristic outburst. “What’s funny?” she asked.

“You.” Allan replied promptly. “You know we have to leave now, right?”

Rosa looked torn. “Y-es. But we’ll come back as much as we can over the week.” she declared with certainty.

Allan nodded in agreement. He replaced his book as Rosa regained her feet.

Rosa made to shut her book, but paused. She reached for her hair.

Allan watched as she pulled the violet ribbon out of her ponytail, letting her chestnut curls cascade down around her shoulders.

Rosa placed her ribbon carefully across the page of the book, before letting the cover fall closed and putting it reluctantly back on the shelf. She moved past Allan back to the chute, which hung low enough to be easily reachable.

Allan came to her side with an amused expression on his face.

Rosa gave him a look that said, What?

Allan shrugged. “Nothing. It’s just, you are one of the few people alive who possesses a perfectly flawless memory, and you still use bookmarks.”

Rosa looked away pointedly. She waved at the chute. “You can go up first in case there’s someone outside in the hall.”

Allan gave her a look, but obediently hefted himself up into the pillar, using his toes and the flat of his forearms to push and climb his way up the narrow space.

Rosa hesitated in his wake. She took one last glance around the underground library. Again, she bit her lip to hold her smile. She’d found it.

And if she had it her way, she’d soon be returning to the forgotten library.

~ by Helen Cryestira Viorel, 5th October, 2019

Artwork by pixundfertig